Open Mic
Inexperienced Cougars show potential in opener

The future is bright for the Kaiser football team.

The Cougars stopped a 12-game losing streak, which included six forfeitures in 2017, with a 12-12 non-league tie against Aiea last Friday night at the Ted Fukushima Athletic Complex.

Not only did Kaiser have the chance to play in its first home game in over 23 months, but it also put out a competitive showing that has given the Hawaii Kai community hope for the rest of the season.

Kaiser coach Tim Seaman, who last coached the team in 1994, was proud of how hard his team played.

"I think the biggest thing was the effort that was put forth," he said. "You could tell the kids really cared about getting out there."

The Cougars' inexperience was evident in the game, which included 11 penalties for 97 yards, but they constantly redeemed themselves after a big mistake.

Kaiser starting quarterback Koa Tom was responsible for the first turnover of the game by throwing an interception on the team's second drive of the game, but the Cougars were able to get the ball back one play later after Joseph Chin's strip sack and recovery.

Following the change of possession, Tom was able to get into the end zone on a 5-yard keeper around left end to draw first blood for the Cougars.

On the first play of Kaiser's next drive, Tom hooked up with Mason Yoshino on a 38-yard pass play down the left sideline to take the Cougars into the red zone. After a 3-yard completion, Tom scrambled into the end zone on a 10-yard run to give the Cougars a 12-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter.

"Those guys came out ready to play, they looked good," Aiea coach Wendell Say said of the Cougars.

Kaiser WR Mason Yoshino proved to a big-play receiver, hauling in four passes for 97 yards against Aiea.

Casey Nguyen also got some reps at quarterback and was able to settle down and make a couple of throws for first downs to give the Cougars a good one-two tandem behind center.

Kaiser never got into the end zone the rest of the way, but it was able to play solid defense in the second half to keep the score at a 12-12 stalemate.

The Cougars held Aiea to just six rushing yards and forced four turnover on downs against Na Alii, three of which were in the second half.

In pass coverage, Kaiser had seven total pass breakups, with Jesse Stroede leading the way with three. Dre Falls and Hunter Phelps also did well with an interception apiece on Aiea quarterback Kayson Castillo.

All in all, Seaman was pleased with how the game played out for his young team.

Kaiser's Jesse Stroede defends a pass intended for Aiea's Austin Mogote.

"It's good to play a tight game like that early in the season, especially for an inexperienced team like we had," he said.

"We made a ton of mistakes as I said before, but with effort and attitude, hopefully they continue to progress. The big thing now is how do we get better going into our first league game against Kalaheo."

Kaiser will host the Mustangs in its Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II opener on Friday. The approximate time for kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].



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